At Simon Preston, Joelle Tuerlinckx’s Oil Can Pretends It Is a Surveillance Camera

THE DAILY PIC: We're so used to surveillance that we see its devices in anything.


THE DAILY PIC (#1345): This oil-can, masquerading as a surveillance camera, is by Joelle Tuerlinckx, a star in Europe but barely known here. She’s in the summer group show at Simon Preston Gallery in New York.

Funny thing is, with your eyes fixed on the art below it, you really do read Tuerlinckx ‘s can as something that’s watching you watch. The piece speaks to the ubiquity of such cameras in our lives today, where they’ve become an almost-invisible staple of our existence.

Our minds have become so used to the lenses that watch us that even an old oil-can now works as a Gombrichian “schema” for them: The can doesn’t really have to look much like a camera, that is; it just has to capture the few traits that our brains have imprinted on. Representation, as Gombrich has taught us, can sometimes be culture- and era-specific; Tuerlinckx’s almost-trompe-l’oeil proves his point.

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